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Elaine Kaufman, the owner of the eponymous Upper East Side restaurant that for decades has served as a second home to legions of writers, died earlier this afternoon. The Post reports that Kaufman, who was 81, died from complications of emphysema.
A lifelong New Yorker, Kaufman opened Elaine’s in 1963 following work as a cosmetician and cigar and hatcheck girl. The East 88th Street restaurant soon became known as a watering hole for writers, including George Plimpton, Willie Morris, Kurt Vonnegut, Nora Ephron, and Gay Talese, and Kaufman herself was immortalized in films from Manhattan to Morning Glory. According to the Times, her restaurant will continue on without her, as unthinkable as that may seem to her many loyal patrons.